Attacking the Garage in London last night were Norwegian black metal legends Gorgoroth, with support from death metal band Vital Remains who were on their 25th anniversary tour, death metal band Ageless Oblivion, and black metallers Ethereal joining them for a night of carnage.
I unfortunately missed the start of Ethereal’s set, but having seen them before supporting Dark Fortress, and having heard their EP’s I knew how fantastic their singer is. Screeching like a demon throughout, this guy is the real deal, and so was the band. With a symphonic edge, they play a really good riff heavy brand of black metal with a dose of melody, quite similar to Dark Fortress. It’s too short a set from them unfortunately, and with missing the start of their set their really energetic performance ends too soon.
Ageless Oblivion on the other hand did nothing for me. With relentless double bass drumming and a really low bass sound, it didn’t really work with the massively trebly guitars, it sounded like a bit of a mess. Their guitarist didn’t do a whole lot, there was nothing in the way of good riffs or solos, the guitars were just sort of there for most of the set. The vocalist had a pretty monotonous shout and it got old quite quickly, even if he was trying to get the unenthusiastic crowd going a lot. They definitely played with energy, their music just wasn’t for me.
Vital Remains though were absolutely superb. Despite not having released anything since 2007’s Icons of Evil, they play an absolutely crushing set. Glen Benton’s left the band since that release, but with Brian Werner they have a replacement who’s if anything, even better than Glen. His barks and screeches are crushingly brutal and his performance and energy is staggering. Driving the crowd into a wall of death for Hammer Down the Nails he really gets the audience going mental. Moshing and circle pits galore, the front is an absolute frenzy, and with Brian coming off the stage to lean over the barrier into the crowd it’s a really involved performance, pushing the mic into the faces of fans to scream out the lyrics, his performance is great. With his crowd interaction, between song blasphemies, great vocal performance, and his “F**k Allah” t-shirt he couldn’t have been any better for the band, who were top notch. Tony Lazaro on rhythm guitar is the one founding member left in the band, and Vital Remains have great riffs in their catalogues which he dishes out with energy, obviously loving every minute, their lead guitarist Aaron Homma delivers solo after solo with all the classic Vital Remains sweep picking, and bassist Gator Collier plays at incredible speed while handling backing vocals with excellent shrieks. It’s a great performance from start to finish, especially Hammer Down the Nails and Forever Underground. As good as they are on record, they’re even better live. It was my first time seeing them, but they said they’ll come back next year with a new record, and you can bet I’ll be there when they do. The band even stayed by the merch stand after their set talking to the fans before Gorgoroth.
Gorgoroth are a very different prospect to Vital Remains. Shrouded in walls of dry ice, with each member in true black metal attire with corpse paint and an array of spikes they put in a particularly evil performance. With Taake’s Hoest taking command on the vocals his performance is fantastic, and without any time for crowd interaction the band rip through an intense set made up of tracks from most of their discography in pure black metal fashion. Unrelenting and with a thick atmosphere Infernus and co play a furious set before leaving the stage with little interaction, choosing instead to simply let their dark, evil music speak for itself. It’s vicious, incisive and an all around great performance. Hoest will be back with Taake for Incineration Festival, again at the Garage, next month and if this performance is anything to go by that will be another intense night.
All in all it was a great night, with Ethereal being one of the better opening bands out there, Gorgoroth being a real class live act, but with the night belonging to the fantastic performance and energy of Vital Remains. With more interaction and higher crowd energy they just edged it, but take nothing away from the excellent Gorgoroth who I can’t wait to see again at Hellfest this June.